Ilkka worked in Finland at management level for 3 years and wanted to study his masters abroad. London was an obvious choice for him and he was particularly attracted to the European Business School London (EBS London) at Regent’s University London because of the diverse student base and its multiculturalism. The MBA Regent’s offers is for one year, compared to the two year courses at other business schools, which incorporates an SPA (study period abroad). This was definitely a USP for him.
Ilkka completed his SPA at the Escuela de Negocios, Caixanova in Spain which he found was a great learning experience, especially with the cultural differences and all the challenges he faced with communication. But he enjoyed learning a new language and appreciated the relaxed workload.
During his time at Regent’s, Ilkka engaged with the Careers and Business Relations department by attending CV and cover letter workshops. But he admitted to using the service more once he had graduated. He got in touch with Career Coach Julian Childs to discuss his career direction and interest in working in the supply and logistics field in the music industry. With Julian’s guidance, he was able to speak to people working in that industry which was a real eye-opener and revealed how tough it was to get into that field without experience – especially UK relevant experience. And so he decided to explore other career options and figured he may pursue this again in the future.
After having thought about his skill set and his work experience, he started to consider the sales and business development route. Ilkka attended the MBA welcome drinks in January 2013 where he bumped into Julian again with his new perspective, at which point Julian suggested that Ilkka researched a company called Gartner – a leading information technology research and advisory company. This was following a meeting between Gartner and the Business Relations team where they outlined the type of candidates they were looking for. Having done this, Ilkka came back to Julian to express his interest in Gartner, which is when Julian introduced him to the key people responsible for recruiting for that particular role.
Ilkka used this opportunity to ask about Gartner and how they particularly do sales, because of the unattractive stereotype attached to this field. He was pleased to find out that it was more of a consultancy with a positive and energetic attitude. It was a long but thorough recruitment process, taking approximately 3 weeks. This included a general pre-screening phone conversation, a screening interview with HR (lasting approximately 45 minutes), followed by a phone interview with an area manager (for 45 minutes).
Ilkka was then invited to the final stages which included a face-to-face interview with two area managers (again approx. 45 minutes) followed by a 30 minute role-playing scenario with the managers and the regional vice president. The final element was a panel interview consisting of those 3 managers which usually lasts 90 minutes, but only took 1 hour in Ilkka’s case.
Despite the extensive recruitment process, Ilkka found that it was very well structured with clear requirements and he was happy to receive good constructive feedback. There were 4 key elements Gartner said they looked for in their new recruits:
• Drive – to be goal/target driven
• Intellect – to possess a natural curiosity
• Executive presence – to be presentable and confident in front of senior management
• Sales skills/traits
Even though individuals and teams have their own targets, Ilkka was pleasantly surprised to see the supportive culture amongst them with a healthy balance of competition.
Ilkka joins Gartner as Account Manager SMB (Small and Midsize Business) and will spend the first 8 weeks at Garter’s training academy, which is highly renowned in the industry.
After being asked if he’d change or do anything differently if given the chance, Ilkka confidently said that he doesn’t live in the past as he treats it all as a learning experience and it has got him where he is today. In the process, he has made friends from all over the world and feels like there’ll always be a friendly face to greet him wherever he went – all thanks to all the people he met during his time at Regent’s University London.
Long term, Ilkka’s career aim is to work at chief level management in a global company where he’ll be involved in strategic decision making, preferably in IT and technology, with possible links to supply chain and logistics. This seems like a natural career path for him in the future.